18th February 2022
Google has revealed plans to expand its Privacy Sandbox to the Android mobile operation system as part of efforts it says will improve user privacy following a similar move made by Apple last year to limit consumer tracking on mobile devices.
Google’s existing Privacy Sandbox initiatives only included the Chrome ecosystem. With this latest announcement Google is extending this to the Android ecosystem.
In a blog post earlier this week, Google said that it is beginning: a multi-year initiative to build the Privacy Sandbox on Android with the goal of developing effective and privacy enhancing advertising solutions, where users know their information is protected, and developers and businesses have the tools to succeed on mobile.
The solutions the company is looking at will limit sharing of user data with third parties and operate without cross-app identifiers, including advertising ID. The company also said it is exploring technologies to reduce the potential for covert data collection, including safer ways for apps to integrate with advertising SDKs.
At the moment, Android devices are assigned a unique identifier known as an ‘advertising ID’ which is used to create a profile and track users across different apps on mobile to serve personalised ads. Google began adding privacy measures around the advertising ID last year to give users more control, allowing them the option to have their unique identifier removed from the system. The latest announcement indicates that in the coming years there will be a new system to provide data for advertisers while still improving privacy, however what exact form that will take is still unclear.
Based on the current outline of proposals, Google appears to potentially be looking at aligning with work it has been doing with Chrome, including Topics (the recently announced replacement for FloC) and FLEDGE a system to target custom audiences without the need to share user data with third parties.
Google stated that whilst it builds and test new solutions it will support existing ad platform features for at least two years. It will also provide substantial notice ahead of any future changes and says that it wants to work with the industry on the new system.
This announcement is a further indication that the industry is moving toward greater privacy for the consumer and to a world where advertisers shouldn't assume they will have access to all customer’s digital data.